Chrome PCs, Apple TVs and techno teeth

Can Google really make a success of Chrome OS?

Google's released so many new things this week you'd probably need a special Google Map to find them all: there was new hardware, new software, more new hardware, a bit more hardware and a new online service.

The biggest announcement was the new version of Chrome OS, Google's alternative operating system. As Patrick Goss reports, it's a bold new vision with some room for improvement, and the new Chrome-running, Mac Mini-esque Chromebox PC "could carve itself a nice little niche in the desktop market." There are new Chromebook laptops from Samsung and Acer too, and Google promises

more from other firms too


The most obvious new thing in Chrome OS is a desktop, which Gary Marshall reckons "is worth a titter at the very least... what we've ended up with looks considerably less radical than Microsoft's Metro interface for Windows 8".

For Marshall, Chrome is an OS designed for "a big but fairly dull market: the locked-down boxes you'll find in hotel internet suites, on check-in desks and in giant corporations' offices". For consumers "it appears to be the Google+ of operating systems, the answer to a question somebody else has already answered".

Chrome OS and Android to merge

One Chrome device you won't see is a tablet, because Chrome and Android will ultimately merge. "We are not working on a Chrome OS tablet," Google says.

Google certainly is working on an Android tablet, though: the Nexus 7, which has shown up online and appears to be made by Asus. It's a quad-core, seven-inch job that should run Android 4.1, and we're expecting to hear much more about it at next month's Google I/O event, along with details of Google Glasses, the augmented reality eyewear that Sergey Brin hints will be released next year.

Google is mainly an online services company, of course, and its latest wheeze is Google+ Local, a location-based section of its social network that will compete with the likes of Yelp, Urban Spoon and even "a significant chunk of TripAdvisor". It's part of Google's ongoing process of integrating everything with everything else, so, for example, it integrates Google+, Google Maps, the Google-owned Zagat restaurant guide, Circles, Hangouts and businesses' Google+ pages.

Apple is lurking

With WWDC 2012 just over a week away we're about to enter the annual Apple news frenzy, and it kicked off early this week when CEO Tim Cook took to the stage at the AllThingsD conference to talk about Apple's past, present and future.

TV is an "area of intense interest", Cook said, all but confirming that Apple is working on a TV; at the very least we reckon the WWDC event will unveil iOS-style apps for the existing Apple TV device. Cook also slammed hybrid tablet/laptop devices and gave Microsoft's tablet plans a good kick, suggesting that combining PC and tablet was like combining a toaster and a fridge.

Gary Marshall felt that the interview showed Cook stepping out from the late Steve Jobs' shadow. "In among the assertions of Apple's general awesomeness, there was some real substance to the interview," he says, noting that Cook promised a more open Apple (but not about future products) and improved corporate responsibility, suggested that the ill-fated Ping social network is on borrowed time and strongly hinted at imminent Facebook integration.

When Cook promised great things from Apple this year, Marshall wasn't "detecting a reality distortion field. Roll on WWDC."

Praise for Jobs

Cook praised Steve Jobs during his interview, and he wasn't the only one to do so this week: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison called the late Apple founder the Henry Ford of the tech industry, while Pixar's Ed Catmull said that, in his final years, Jobs "was very kind. There was a notion of fairness that wasn't there in the early years."

From the sublime to the utterly ridiculous: this week we discovered the existence of the Play-A-Grill, a piece of jewellery that doubles as a tongue-controlled MP3 player. Marc Chacksfield couldn't resist. "Wonder who will wear it first?," he asked. "Queen La-teether, Tooth-pac Shakur or Root canal Manuva?"

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